CX champs prepare to defend titles

Dutch national champion Lucinda Brand and Belgian national champion Toon Aerts look to defend titles this weekend

The excitement for cyclocross national championships this weekend builds as riders prepare to fight for their national jerseys.

The Telenet-Baloise Lions team hosts both the reigning women’s Dutch champion, Lucinda Brand, and the men’s Belgian champion, Toon Aerts. In the juniors Belgian national championship race, all eyes will be on Thibau Nys.

Belga Photo by David Stockman

The Belgian national championships take place on Saturday and Sunday in Antwerp. Aerts will compete for the first time since December. He stepped away from racing for two weeks in order to let fractured ribs heal from crash.

“My rib injury is moving in the right direction,” Aerts said. “I’m hopeful for a podium finish but am uncertain about my body’s form. With support of fans, I hope to rise to the challenge on Sunday.”

Belga Photo by David Stockman

In the juniors race in Antwerp, Thibau Nys will vie for the top step. So far this season, he has won 15 of the 18 races where he competed and will be hard to beat on Saturday.

“I feel strong on my bike and confident in my capacity,” Nys said. In moments like these, where pressure builds for a win by Nys, there is often reference to his dad, Sven Nys, and his stellar career as a cyclocross racer. When asked about that pressure, Nys said for the most part it is a positive force for him.

“I grew up with my dad as a pro athlete and one of the best cyclocross riders,” Thibau said. “It’s a positive pressure that motivates me. I’m just doing my best every day.”

Belga Photo by David Stockman

An hour north of the Belgian races, Lucinda Brand will defend her Dutch title in Rucphen, Netherlands.

“It promises to be an exciting race,” Brand said. “Ceylin del Carmen Alvarado and Annemarie Worst will start with the elites this year, and with Marianne Vos there I expect a fierce battle for the title. I hope I will be fully recovered and have good legs on Sunday.”

Let the games begin!